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The first thing you notice is the voice. The resonant baritone, vibrant with the timbre of seasoned oak, prompts the urgent question: “Who is that?”. He sounds familiar, but you can’t quite place it, as he croons like Sinatra one moment, yodels like Haggard in another, growls like Lovett on the turnaround, and sticks the landing in James Taylor territory. And that’s just in the first chorus.
The fingerpicking on the classical guitar arrests your attention next. His signature style, blending ringing open strings with tasty arpeggiated figures up and down the neck, supports the vocal. While the changes fit comfortably within the familiar singer-songwriter bag, you detect stealth inflections of traditional country, bluegrass and gospel. Jazz and blues figures light up the roots repertoire, blending genres from a half century of performing.
Finally, the stylish and literary lyrics intrigue your imagination while he regales the audience with good time crowd pleasers Just One More and You Never Know, including rowdy, uptempo satires Game Of Life, I Don’t Wanna Feel Better and We Gotta Do This Again. Plot-driven tales Between The River And The Rails, First Duty, 21st Century Cowgirl, and Responder are blue collar screenplays in three choruses and a bridge, inhabiting the inner lives of complex characters. Unflinching portrayals of the darker corners of modern life in Free America, Seeking Comfort, and Turtle yield to redemptive ballads Dharma Waltz, The Way That It Goes, Saved The Best For Last, and the bluesy I’ve Had Enough.
Before you’ve even had the chance to fully appreciate the cinematic imagery and emotional payload of these narratives, he closes out the set and you find yourself wishing there was more.
Axon will be right back, after this short break.